Friday, February 26, 2010

X-Plane 9 Mobile for iPhone review

How would it be to be able to have a flight simulator in your pocket every day? Dream no more! The team at Laminar Research managed to move simulation to your pocket with the release of the X-Plane app for iPhone, which is a miniature copy of the very realistic simulator that is available on the desktop computers, guaranteed to keep you busy and entertained during breaks or while getting bored waiting.

I recently played it on the iPhone of a friend and decided to write this short review about it. 

The X-Plane 9 Mobile app includes the following aircraft:

    * Cessna 172
    * Columbia 400
    * Piper Malibu
    * Cirrus Vision
    * Piaggio Avanti
    * Beechcraft King Air

and the following regions:

    * Innsbruck, Austria
    * Hawaii
    * Boswell Bay, Alaska
    * Southern California
    * San Francisco, California
    * Desert Sky, California

While this application is not designed to be a simulator, but more a game to play, it still keeps quite a few options from original X-Plane which can customize your flight experience. You can set the region, select the aircraft, weather, weight and many others. You even have a small map of the area containing the navaids.
And yes, you can even do instrument flights with it!

After starting the application from the iPhone menu you are already in the game on the runway which is good as you can start flying in a couple of second. To change location, aircraft and option you need to click one of the icons at the top of the screen. From the same place you can pause the simulation or change the views. For IFR fans a instrument panel is also included, but it will be full screen giving you no possibility to see the scenery.

To start flying just click on the brakes icon to disable the brakes and on the area in the right side of the screen to set the flaps. When good to go just set the throttle from the left side of the screen. The plane will start to roll on the runway. Make sure you keep the  iPhone horizontal as any tilt will cause the plane to turn as well.

When ready to take off just tilt the iPhone towards you and soon you will find yourself floating between the clouds ;)
It takes some time to get used with the controls but I managed to do a landing correctly form the first try so I would say it is pretty easy to use.

You have also the option to customize the controls and flight dynamics of the aircraft to make it easier or harder.

There are different views you can choose from (outside and inside) but the one I used most of the time was the fighter hood like below which displays most of the parameters you need.

Scenery itself is ok, considering we are talking about a phone application, and it ran very smoothly on the iPhone 3Gs that I used for testing. Same applies to the instrument panel and 3d model of the aircrafts.

I would recommend reading the article about Flying X-Plane mobile that is posted on the website if you would like to find out more about how to play it.
All being said I would consider this one of the best aviation related mobile games available on the market.
Wish you  many hours of iPhone simming and take great care with the controls not to end up like me below: